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Eugene reverses decision on downtown homeless camp

Plans for a dusk to dawn tent city on the former city hall property will not move forward.

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 1:41 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 6:46 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- In a major reversal, Eugene city councilors put the brakes on a controversial plan to build a tent city for the homeless in the downtown core.

During a Wednesday meeting, councilors said they would work with Lane County officials on a path forward.

Just last week councilors praised the idea of putting a Dusk to Dawn type program and a day center that would provide a space for people to be during the day where the old Eugene City Hall used to be.

At the time, only councilor Mike Clark objected to the plan but at Wednesday's work session, they all decided to reverse course.

They said they will work with Lane County, which just this weekend opened a temporary shelter along Highway 99.

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said a Dusk to Dawn shelter on county-owned land on Highway 99 was a better way to go.

"That site can hold more people so we can serve more people there and we can serve more people there and we can serve them more effectively there because there is water there and because it's close to services to the Lindholm Center, it's a more accessible spot and safer spot," Vinis said.

Although councilors passed the motion unanimously, city councilor Emily Semple still said there needs to be a program in downtown.

"I don't believe they'll all go to 99 even if we give them a bus ride,” said Semple. “So that leaves them still here, and if we don't have a site here, nothing will change downtown, I believe, even if it looks like it could.”

Although the city is planning to shift its focus to working with the county to expand on the Highway 99 site they still hope to establish a day center somewhere in the downtown area.

Vinis said councilors were hoping to have that in the downtown area, but no location has been decided.

City officials said these sites are temporary but don't have an exact time frame but said they hope to expand on the county's camp in the coming weeks.

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